The Circo Massimo, the biggest open Theatre ever built
When you plan a tour in Rome, you can't forget to visit Circo Massimo, one of the monuments considered a symbol of the city. The Circo Massimo has a thousand years history, able to astonish people for its origins, but also for the events that can take place there. Here you are the most important things you should know to plan your visit at best.
The history of the Circo Massimo
The Circo Massimo is situated between the two Roman hills: the Palatino and the Aventino. It is the oldest circus ever found and still existing nowadays: its peculiarity is to having been the stage of several art shows.
The structure was commissioned by King Tarquinius Priscus who ordered to build it on a reclaimed swamp area, to thank the deities who allowed the recovery of that area of the city unused until then. For this reason, he decided the circus had to be enormous. At the beginning, it was situated on a 600 m long and 140 m large surface. It is that it could host up to 250,000 spectators. Originally, the entire structure of the circus was made of wood. All the parts of the circus where made of wood. Over the centuries, however, several fires destroyed the entire structure, and for this reason, in the 2nd century, it was decided to rebuild some parts, especially those below the track, in masonry.
All the following emperors wanted to make some changes to improve the most important circus in Rome. Caesar was the one who actually gave the final appearance to the track, and Agrippa ordered to decorate the external part putting marbles and statues. Augustus ordered the built of the Imperial stage, with the installation of Ramset II obelisk in the track.
Finally, Caligula ordered a complete restoration of the circus, because of the umpteenth fire. Currently, you can just say a little portion of the circus on one of the borders of the truck, showing you the size it had in the past.
The main historical events in the Circo Massimo
As it was one of the main circus in the city, with the which several emperors have been connected, obviously several historical episodes took place there too. The most famous event surely is the Sabine’s Rape. During the games dedicated to God Consus, the young Roman people decided to kidnap the women of the Sabine people, because they refused to move to Rome and marry the young Roman warriors.
The taking place after this event made Rome the strongest city on the Italic territory. The last horses’ race in the Circo Massimo took place in 549 A.D., when also some barbarian people exhibited themselves, before invading the city. In the golden age of the Circo Massimo, events and races used to take place every three years. Sometimes also the gladiators used to take part to the shows there, and it is said Nero chose the Circo Massimo as his favourite stage. The Circo Massimo has been told by several writers from the Classic era: Ovid, in his "Ars amatoria" told about it as the best place for meeting women.
The Circo Massimo can be considered a masterpiece of engineering, being a very modern structure. As it can happen today in the stadiums, also the Circo Massimo provided the "latrines" - the toilets of the time - as well as a space reserved to food and delicacies. Moreover, some frescoes demonstrate there was a location dedicated to the events promotion.
What to see near the Circo Massimo
The Circo Massimo is situated in an area rich in several Classic monuments. At the time, any kind of games were connected to religion. Before every show, they actually used to offer sacrifices to the goddesses, in order to get their protection. For this reason, the area around the Circo Massimo hosts several temples still in perfect conditions.
Not far from there, another monument is the symbol of the city: the Bocca della Verità, the circular marble sculpture told by several legends. The most important one tells it was able to discover if people were honest. The next step after the Circo Massimo is the Roseto di Roma.
It is a green area where several species of roses - even very rare - are preserved. Less than 300 meters from the Circo Massimo, there is Augustus' residence. Part of the house is still in perfect conditions, and very important, as it is situated on the Palatino hill, where it was said Romolo - the first king of Rome - lived.
This legend has influenced all the kings and the emperors who succeeded each other leading the Roman Empire, because everyone wanted to create an ideal connection with the founder of the city. Nearby, you can also visit the arch of Constantine. It is a very beautiful marble arch, built by the will of Emperor Constantine.
If you want to deep discover the activities the ancient Roman people used to do, we suggest you to reach the Colosseum, a few kilometres far from there, as it is one of the best preserved gladiators' stadiums in the world, where you can discover something about the competitions taking place there.
Do you want to stay in Rome?
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